Brian Wilson believes he’ll be ready opening day

Ever the optimist with his bold personality and bushy black

beard, Giants closer Brian Wilson deemed himself ahead of schedule

in his recovery from a second Tommy John elbow ligament replacement

surgery and insists he plans to be ready for opening day 2013.

That would be defying the odds for an operation that typically

has a recovery time of 18 months to two years – and can be a much

more difficult or longer process when it’s done twice on the same

arm. Still, Wilson is trying to be patient. He planned to ride a

stationary bike Wednesday for the first time since his April 19

surgery, performed in Florida by Dr. James Andrews.

A ligament from his leg was used in his elbow, so Wilson has to

be careful with any exercise at this stage. He spoke for the first

time since his procedure in a wide-ranging interview Wednesday at

his locker before San Francisco opened a quick two-game series

against the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals.

”I’ve had it done before, I know what to expect,” Wilson said,

noting he is staying upbeat. ”I don’t really have room for

negativity in my life. Early on you could think of all the negative

things that hinder you, but if you keep focusing on negativity,

then that’s exactly what you’ll produce. So I try to think more

positively, and surround myself with teammates like I have that are

very positive and are going to help me heal well. And I think I’ve

got an entire city behind my back.”

He is charting pitches to help out his teammates and learn

tendencies himself. He is learning to use his left hand to do jobs

such as lay carpet and hang televisions, challenging himself with

2,000-piece puzzles. He’d rather be pitching, of course, but knows

that time will come – and, he points out: ”I’m 30 and I’ve got a

new arm. That’s pretty awesome.” He even believes he might throw

harder now.

”I’ve had to find some hobbies, that’s for sure. I’ve had a lot

of time on my hands,” Wilson said. ”I’ve just done everything,

pretty much. Can’t play video games `cause I don’t want to mess up

my forearm, but I’ve done a lot of puzzles.”

What kind?

”Anywhere from like crosswords, riddles, and mostly just puzzle

pieces,” he said. ”Start off with a nice 500-piece and go from

there. Did the Taj Mahal. It was 2,000 pieces, pretty excited about


The hard-throwing right-hander also had the surgery while in

college at LSU in 2003 – also done by Andrews. On Sunday, he plans

to get in the broadcast booth with Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper.

Also Sunday, 25,000 fans will receive a Wilson garden gnome.

”I don’t gnome what you’re talking about,” he quipped. ”I

kind of like it. He’s pretty tan. Not really in shape. We wear the

same hats, obviously. It’ll be pretty fun. Hopefully I can get one.

I think I’m on the list.”

The 30-year-old closer led the majors with 48 saves in 2010 and

recorded the final out in Game 5 of the World Series at Texas to

clinch the franchise’s first championship since moving West in


The three-time All-Star complained of discomfort in the elbow

April 13. That was a day after Wilson threw 32 pitches at Colorado

while working on back-to-back days.

Wilson finished 6-4 with a 3.11 ERA and 36 saves in 57

appearances last season, held out down the stretch as a precaution.

He had taken all of the important steps in his rehab this spring,

so the injury caught everybody by surprise.

He now hopes to surprise everyone with a speedy return – and

Wilson isn’t afraid to make lofty projections.

”No, it’s not too early for that. Opening day,” he said.

”I’ll be closing it out. Unless someone throws a complete game,

which would be pretty sweet, too. I don’t imagine doing any rehab

starts. I’ll be here for spring training. Throw my 12, 13 innings

probably. I’ll be here Day One. That’s my choice, obviously. I

don’t know what they want. I’m sure they’d like that. I would

definitely argue for that, provided I prove all the necessary

progressions. Of course.”

While the Giants would be surprised to see Wilson ready by

opening day next spring, they know he might just be the guy to pull

it off.

”I wouldn’t rule it out with Willie and his work ethic,”

manager Bruce Bochy said. ”I’m sure he’s going to be religious

with the rehab. I can’t say it’s not going to happen. It’s not

something I thought would happen on opening day, but hopefully it

does happen.”

For now, he will keep on his rigorous rehab program and occupy

himself with the other activities he has found to take his mind off

missing the mound.

”The biggest puzzle I’m currently doing is my life, which isn’t

over yet,” Wilson said.